Party Basics for New Nesters: More Than 100 Fresh Ideas for Holidays and Every Day

Party Basics for New Nesters: More Than 100 Fresh Ideas for Holidays and Every Day

by Maria McBride


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You did it! You got married and hosted what was probably the most significant party of your life. Now it's time to begin that very important first year as a married couple. Taking your first steps as newlyweds should be an extension of the wonderful events that just took place, paving the way for all of the celebrations to come in your new life together. And there isn't a better guide through this first year than Maria McBride, who knows from experience that spending quality time with family and friends is the healthiest way to embrace and celebrate a new partnership.

With McBride's signature dose of style and elegance, this book guides newlyweds through their new world of couples entertaining, offering ideas for every occasion, including romantic parties for two, weekend feasts, family celebrations, and holidays. Organized by event, each chapter is beautifully designed and filled with photographs that capture the stylish decor, table settings, and menu options that make these ideas extraordinary. From a New Year's Eve midnight buffet filled with crystal vases and caviar shooters, to a Cinco de Mayo celebration highlighted with candlelit trees and salsa-tinis, Party Basics for New Nesters provides newlyweds with plenty of avenues to celebrate and offer a toast to family, friends, and each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061142611
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/11/2008
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.56(w) x 9.53(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Maria McBride is internationally recognized as a wedding style guru. She produces special events and her work appears in Brides magazine where she is currently the Wedding Style Director. Additionally, she has written columns for InStyle and Country Home, and her work has been featured on,,,, and on her own site, McBride has also been a featured guest on the Today show and Movie & A Makeover. She is the author of the series of books, The Perfect Wedding, The Perfect Wedding Reception, and The Perfect Wedding Details.

Read an Excerpt

Party Basics for New Nesters
More Than 100 Fresh Ideas for Holidays and Every Day

By Maria McBride HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
Maria McBride
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061142611

Chapter One

Party Basics

Despite all the details to organize, parties really are a snap to pull off when you focus on the basics. If you master a few simple skills, stock your pantry with the right utensils, learn where to find the right staples, make lists, and keep them doable, you'll find it easy to be a host. Entertaining well is a learnable skill. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. You'll find celebrations for two or parties for many more require the same elements. Nesters should rejoice—you have a partner with whom you can split the tasks and master the techniques. So you have no excuse: Have a party!


In many ways, the invitation is the most complicated element of hosting a party; simply choosing a date that works is tricky.Luckily, creating a clever request is a snap. Although it's completely appropriate to use e-mail to invite guests, everyone enjoys receiving an invitation in the mail. For sanity's sake, keep it simple. The right materials will make it easy to look smart.

Picking a date that fits your schedules is the first task. As anyone who's planned a wedding knows, you need to give guests plenty of notice. E-mail save-the-dates when you're planning a large gathering. Write a simply worded note with the time and occasion about 6 weeks before the date, select a font and color to suit the season, and send. Followup with complete details by mail 3 weeks before the celebration. For smaller gatherings, you can allow a shorter time frame. Major reunions likely need 6 months—even a year during the busiest seasons.


Quality stock simply feels good in your hand. Stationery emporiums offer a wonderland of options. I prefer note cards that are 4 inches by 6 inches or smaller. They are typically sold with complementary envelopes. Colors that signify the season are the best selections. For something more whimsical, kraft paper, cardboard stock, even index cards work well. Use photographs or prints to personalize.


To make text legible there should be a contrast between the ink color and the paper. Black, brown, and navy inks look best on cream, white, and pale tones. White ink is dramatic on black and brown papers. Calligraphy markers—with a thin and a thick felt nib at each end—come in more colors than Crayola crayons, making it easy to customize the design of your invitation.

Rubber stamps

Quickly inked images and letters make fast work of production. Ink pads come in a wide range of colors. I like to mix rubber stamps and markers for a collage-like composition. Order custom self-inking stamps with your initial or message for professional flourish.


Use a metal stamp to emboss a puddle of wax for sealing envelopes, or try adhesive dots or vinyl decals, which can also be used to punctuate your composition. Detail paper dots with a rubber stamp for a clever monogram.


This tool has a customizable plate that stamps paper with raised impressions—great for monograms.


Unquestionably, fresh blooms adda festive touch to our daily life and are required table dressing for any special event. Happily, every season introduces a vivacious crop to tempt us to turn our living rooms into lush gardens. I shop at farmers markets, my neighborhood flower shop, nurseries, even the corner food market, since all of them regularly stock cut flowers. If the price is right I'll load up on extra bunches and crowd several vases for an indulgent display.

Before you buy any flowers, a brief inspection will ensure that you select the best bunch. Look for viable green foliage that doesn't look wilted. Stems should be firm; if they're limp, their vascular tissue has already started to deteriorate and the flowers will be short-lived.

Once you get home, a little preparation will maximize the life of your arrangement. First, be sure your vase is clean. A soapy rinse with warm water will remove any trace of bacterial contaminants from the container.

Fill the vessel halfway with clear, cool water. Remove excess and damaged foliage from each stem. I leave only the best-looking leaves that emerge closest to the neck of the flower and pluck all the remaining leaves with a firm pinch between my fingertips. Be sure to remove all leaves that will rest below the water line. By trimming the excess foliage you optimize the life of the plant stem. The stem is a series of thin, strawlike tubes that draw water to the plant cells; eliminating unnecessary greenery will ensure water goes directly to the flower head.

Use a clean, sharp pair of clippers or a floral knife to make a fresh cut to the flower stem. (Dull blades crush stems and vascular vessels.) Clip off at least 2 inches from the base to remove any damaged or dried stem, more to accommodate short vases. Cut at a 45-degree angle to optimize the absorption surface of the stem; a slant cut maximizes the water intake area. If the plant has a woody stem—a lilac, for instance—make an additional inch-long cut up the center of the stem.

Replenish water as needed—the stems are alive only as long as they are drinking—and replace the water if it becomes cloudy. Check the stems: If the ends seem mushy or hardened, cut off the deteriorated section and return to the vase with fresh water. Pluck out any stems that prematurely fade, and keep the blooms away from intense sources of heat, like radiators or windows with southern exposures. With a little TLC, fresh flowers will last up to a week.


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